PRESIDENT Michael D. Higgins has described the death of acclaimed poet Seamus Heaney as the “greatest loss of such a great and loving person.”
“It is with the greatest sadness that I have heard of the passing of Seamus Heaney whose contribution to the republics of letters, conscience, and humanity was immense,” he said.
The renowned poet died at the age of 74 early this morning in hospital in Dublin after a short illness. Heaney had suffered a stroke a few years ago, leading to further health problems in recent years.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny also paid tribute to the literary great: “Scholars all over the world will have gained from the depth of the critical essays, and so many rights organisations will want to thank him for all the solidarity he gave to the struggles within the republic of conscience.
“We are blessed to call Seamus Heaney our own and thankful for the gift of him in our national life. He belongs with Joyce, Yeats, Shaw and Beckett in the pantheon of our greatest literary exponents.”
“For us, Seamus Heaney was the keeper of language, our codes, our essence as a people,” and his “death brings great sorrow to Ireland, to language and to literature.”
Regarded by many as the best Irish poet since Yeats, Heaney’s remarkable career led him to receive the 1995 Nobel prize for literature.
The President said of the Nobel Laureate: “As tributes flow in from around the world, as people recall the extraordinary occasions of the readings and the lectures, we in Ireland will once again get a sense of the depth and range of the contribution of Seamus Heaney to our contemporary world, but what those of us who have had the privilege of his friendship and presence will miss is the extraordinary depth and warmth of his personality.
“The presence of Seamus was a warm one, full of humour, care and courtesy – a courtesy that enabled him to carry with such wry Northern Irish dignity so many well-deserved honours from all over the world.”
Speaking of Heaney’s work, including famous pieces Digging and Mid-Term Break, the President said: “Generations of Irish people will have been familiar with Seamus’ poems.”
Heaney – originally from Castledawson, Co Derry – lived in Dublin and is survived by his wife, Marie, and children, Christopher, Michael and Catherine Ann.
The funeral will take place on Monday.
What are your memories of Seamus Heaney? Do you have a favourite or most memorable poem of his? Please Tweet us @theIrishPost or comment below
Below are some of the tributes on Twitter from celebrities, those from the literary world and fans of Seamus Heaney’s work.